Posts Tagged ‘Carlo Mollino’

Design | Italy in Paris

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Osvaldo Borsani
Model at16 coatstand
in leather, brass and walnut
Produced by Tecno, 1961
Est €6,000 > 8,000

Italian Design
PIASA Rive Gauche
Paris | France
Exhibition: 10th April > 14th April 2014
Sale: 15th April 2014

In the 1980s London fell in love with design. It was cool to kit out your home with slick and beautifully made contemporary Italian furniture and lighting from Zeev Aram and newly-established shops, such as Atrium, and The London Lighting Company. From its launch in 1983, the names of architects and designers Vico Magistretti, Achille Castiglioni, as well as that of Ettore Sotsass, figured regularly and prominently in the British magazine Blueprint. At about the same time, and although I and other like-minded Londoners spoke no Italian, we began subscribing to, and each month poring over, great-looking Italian architecture and design magazines. Domus was one, Abitare another – the latter art directed and edited by the legendary Italo Lupi (former art director of Domus) in which the work of the designers mentioned above would also feature, alongside that of Carlo Mollino, Gio Ponti (Domus’s founder) and Piero Fornasetti – each still relevant but more representative of an earlier era. However the list of lots in PIASA Rive Gauche’s forthcoming auction, reveals other important Italian figures, who are perhaps less familiar, or were lost in translation, and also includes anonymous pieces.

After training as an architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911 >1985), see image top, joined the family furniture-making business Atelier Varedo (later Arredamento Borsani). Very prolific as a designer of storage furniture and seating, in 1953 with his brother Fulgencio, Osvaldo founded the technology based company, Tecno, which still exists and is a well-known producer of innovative furniture for offices and public buildings.

Unknown designer
Sofa in wool and brass, c 1950
Est €18,000 > 25,000

Ico Parisi
Suite of six chairs
in painted wood
and leatherette
c 1955
Est €6,000 > 9,000

Ico Parisi’s (1916 > 1996) style epitomised the modern Italian look of the 1950s. Trained as architect, he spent time in the 1930s as a film-maker and went on to design everything from interiors to jewellery, sometimes working with his wife, Luisa, a former student of Gio Ponti.

Pucci de Rossi
Rocking chair
in steel, prototype, 2001
Est €10,000 > 15,000

Born in Verona, Italy, artist, sculptor and designer, de Rossi (1947 > 2013) lived and worked in Paris from 1979. Post-modern by nature, rather than producing useful functional objects and furniture, he sought to imbue his creations with imagination, humour and irony.

Trolley in metal and wood
One-off piece, designed for a
Milanese apartment, 1959
Est €4,000 > 6,000

Set up in Milan in 1932, BBPR was a studio of modern movement architects, planners and designers, composed of Gian Luigi Banfi, Ludovico Barbiato di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers, who were responsible for the post World War II reconstruction of the city. They produced chair designs for Arflex – now back in production – and BBPR’s Olivetti showroom on Fifth Avenue, New York City (1954), is regarded as among the most innovative small-scale projects of the period.

Pierre Cardin
Table lamp in metal and glass
Produced by Venini c1970
Est €3,000 > 4,000

Significantly, because the Italian approach to production of furniture and lighting has always been crafts-based – which attracted designers from around the world to produce work for or with Italian companies – the PIASA Rive Gauche Italian Design sale features pieces by non-Italians, including, appropriately – it taking place in Paris – Frenchman Pierre Cardin (1922 >), who happens to have been born in Italy.

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Auction | Carlo Mollino’s ‘Villa K2′ Furnishings

Friday, October 19th, 2012

20th Century Decorative Art & Design:
Including an Important Private Collection of Works by Carlo Mollino
King Street, London, UK
Exhibition: 18th-23rd October, 2012
Sale: 23rd October, 2012

Flamboyant Italian Architect, designer, and writer, Carlo Mollino (1905-1973) was an obsessive skier and pilot who loved driving racing-cars, and was a master of erotic photography. In 1951, at the height of his powers, having recently completed construction of the Lattes publishing house and the RAI auditorium in Turin, exhibited his furniture designs at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, and embarked on the first of a series of buildings in the Alpine resort of Cervinia, Mollino was commissioned by industrialist, Luigi Cattaneo, to design a unique family retreat on an elevated site in the foothills of the Alps, with majestic views over Lake Maggiore.

It was a dream commission and Mollino, remarkable in the thoroughness with which he approached everything in his life – during the 1930s, he had conducted a detailed photographic survey into the traditional regional architecture of the Val d’Aosta, the timber buildings of which, with raised superstructures, open galleries, and pitched roofs, were to provide the architectural inspiration for the Casa Cattaneo, allowing him to design a building that embraced modernity, whilst retaining a local, Italian identity appropriate for the setting – designing the building as well as every item of furniture and every fitting within it, didn’t disappoint.

Oregon pine was imported to clad the interior walls to which each plank was fastened with brass bolts. Other walls were rendered with a textured, granulated surface containing shimmering fragments of crystal, and the floor of the entrance hall was laid with a mosaic of locally-sourced, cut and polished river pebbles. Mollino designed the dining suite – estimated at £500,000-700,000 and the centre-piece in the forthcoming Christie’s sale of the villa’s furnishings – to be the central focus for Luigi Cattaneo’s extended family gatherings. The distinctive bi-partite backed dining chairs, with splayed legs, blending elegant streamlining with rustic sturdiness, were carved from chestnut, while the table is in oak. An elegant, modern painted steel and brass ceiling light that was suspended over the green linoleum-surfaced table, has an innovative perforated canopy that allowed light to be gently diffused across the room and could be adjusted in order to modify luminosity – estimated sale price is £150,000-200,000. Curiously, coat-hooks occupied a special place for Mollino and every interior he designed features different examples; those in the entrance corridor at Casa Cattaneo were in brightly-coloured ceramic and reveal a surrealistic tendency. Along with beds and cabinets, two sets of these are included in the sale. In 2005, a unique oak and glass table, designed by Mollino for the Casa Orenga, completed in 1949, sold for £2.3m ($3.8 m), at Christie’s in New York, setting a world record for twentieth-century decorative art, yet to be broken.

Trained in technical engineering, during his career, Mollino designed record-players, radios, cars, racing tracks, fuel stations, aircraft and airport hangars but  from 1933 to 1973, when he died suddenly, he had produced a total of only a dozen or so architectural works, many having been destroyed, abandoned, or altered beyond recognition. Among his masterpieces, was the Società Ippica Torinese, horse racing stadium, (in collaboration with Vittorio Baudi di Selve, 1937–1940, demolished 1960) in which, taking inspiration from Alvar Aalto and Erich Mendelsohn, Mollino used rationalism to intensify and extol the metaphysical elements of the project. His building for the Slittovia di Lago Nero (1946-1947), elements of which provide a model for the later Casa Cattaneo, is a re-think of the traditional Alpine ski-lift building. Innovator and dreamer, Mollino, at the time professor of architectural composition at the Politecnico of Torino, referred to his interior for the new Teatro Regio in Turin (1965-1973) as ‘a shape somewhere between an egg and a half-open oyster’. In 1955 he created the Bisiluro, a racing car which took part that year in the 24 Hours at Le Mans.

Shortly after it was completed the Cattaneo retreat – in homage to the mountain peak scaled by an Italian expedition in 1954 – acquired the title ‘Villa K2′. In the decades since completion, the intimacy of the perfectly-designed interior continued to provide inspirational refuge to successive generations of the Cattaneo family and has, up until now, survived intact.

Images from top
Unique Suspension Light, 1953
Estimate: £150,000-200,000

Casa Cattaneo, ‘Villa K-2′, Agra, Italy, 1953-54

Unique and Important Dining Suite, 1953
Estimate: £500,000-700,00

Four Coat Hooks, 1954
Estimate: £8,ooo-12,000

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